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19 Nov 07. FCO Annual Report 2006/07: Report. The Foreign Affairs Committee published (19 Nov 07) a report on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Annual Report 2006/07. The Committee’s main conclusion is that the Comprehensive Spending Review settlement for the FCO, described as “one of the tightest in Whitehall”, risks jeopardising the FCO’s work. Chapter 7 of the Report is devoted to Diplomatic representation overseas and includes comment on the recent adjustments to the Defence Adviser/Attaché community. The Government is invited to “reconsider the decision to make cuts to the Defence Attaché network, which is critically important to several Government Departments and Agencies….”.
Comment: A further recommendation from the Committee is that the decision to ban valedictory telegrams should be reversed but, sadly, this is unlikely to happen. The Report (HC 50 for £24:50) is available via the Committee’s website (www.parliament.uk/facom). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0746, 26 Nov 07)

23 Nov 07. Defence Committee: Timetable. The Work of Defence Estates: Government Response was published at HC 109 on 23 Nov 07. The final evidence session of the Committee’s Inquiry into Medical Care for the Armed Forces is to take place at 10.30hrs on Tue 27 Nov 07 in the Thatcher Room at Portcullis House.
The Committee’s postponed evidence session on the MoD’s Annual Report and Accounts is now to take place at 10.30hrs on Wed 28 Nov 07 in Committee Room 16 at the Palace of Westminster. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0746, 26 Nov 07)

Written Answers

Thursday 22 November 2007

Navy: Escort Vessels

Lord Addington asked Her Majesty’s Government: How many escort vessels are required to support two carrier groups.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): There is no definitive figure for the number of escorts required to support a carrier or amphibious task group. A number of variables determine the scale of commitment of escorts to a particular mission. These factors include the level of the threat, the type and scale of the operation and capabilities of the escorts. In the case of a coalition operation, there is the likelihood that escorts would be provided by a number of contributing nations. Our maritime forces are configured to be able to deliver simultaneously one carrier strike task group and one amphibious task group operating independently.

House of Lords

Thursday, 22 November 2007.

The House met at eleven o’clock: the LORD SPEAKER on the Woolsack.
Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Newcastle.

Message from the Queen

Earl Peel: My Lords, I have the honour to present to your Lordships a message from Her Majesty the Queen, signed by her own hand. The message is as follows: “I have received with great satisfaction the dutiful and loyal expression of your thanks for the Speech with which I opened the present Session of Parliament”.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My Lords, first, I am sure the whole House will wish to join me in offering sincere condolences to the family and friends of two service personnel
who died in Iraq on Tuesday when the RAF Puma helicopter in which they were
travelling crashed near Baghdad. Our thoughts go out to those families.
The bilateral discussions between Russia and the United States over co-operation
on ballistic missile defence are not for the UK to comment on, although we
welcome the progress being made. Parliament will be informed of any outcome of
the discussions that affects the United Kingdom.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we on these Benches share in the condolences
expressed for the two soldiers killed in the helicopter crash. I should declare
a geographical interest in that Menwith Hill is an American enclave on British
soil and is very close to Saltaire. I pass by it frequently.

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